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U.S.-Canada panel selects region for new Detroit-area bridge crossing

U.S.-Canada panel selects region for new Detroit-area bridge crossing

   A bi-national commission has narrowed down the options for a new river crossing between the Detroit region on the U.S. side and Windsor on the Canadian side.

   Transport Canada said the Border Transportation Partnership will concentrate future study of a new Detroit River crossing and inspection plazas to the industrial area of West Windsor. The commission ruled out proposals for a two-lane truckway advanced by the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership, a six-lane freeway following the Canada Southern Rail corridor in Canada to a new river crossing, crossings in the Morton Industrial Park area in Windsor, and a twin bridge alongside the existing Ambassador Bridge, because they were either inadequate to meet future needs or would cause major community and economic impact.

   The commission, comprising technical experts and officials from Transport Canada, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and the Michigan Department of Transportation, in October eliminated alternative border crossings south and east of the metropolitan area. The group plans to name its preferred location for a new river crossing by mid-2007.

   Public hearings to receive community input on the technical aspects of the proposal will be held during the week of Nov. 28 in the Windsor area and the week of Dec. 5 in the Detroit area. An environmental assessment, which also reviews optimal customs plaza locations and connecting roads on both sides of the border, is scheduled to be completed by late 2007 with the goal of opening a new crossing by 2013.

   The Detroit-Windsor crossings — tunnel, Ambassador Bridge and a small ferry service — handled $158.7 billion in trade or $28 percent of the $446 billion in U.S.-Canada trade in 2004. However, business groups say border backups cost the local and national economies more than $10 billion. Cross-border truck traffic is expected to increase 128 percent during the next 30 years to accommodate growth in trade between the two nations.

   The Ambassador Bridge handles more than 40 percent of truck traffic between the United States and Ontario.

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